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Nicotine Effects on Thermoregulatory Responses of Men and Women During Acute Cold Exposure

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Cheatham CC, Caine-Bish N, Blegen M, Potkanowicz ES, Glickman EL. Nicotine effects on thermoregulatory responses of men and women during acute cold exposure. Aviat Space Environ Med 2004; 75:589–595.

Introduction: Due to the impact of nicotine (NIC) on the physiological processes involved in temperature regulation during cold exposure, it is conceivable that NIC may affect the body’s thermoregulatory abilities during a cold stress. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of NIC on thermoregulatory responses during acute cold exposure. Methods: There were six men and six women between the ages of 18 and 25 yr who participated in this study. All subjects were active, apparently healthy smokers. Each subject performed two cold air trials consisting of a 30-min baseline period (BASE) and a 120-min exposure to 10°C air. One cold air trial was performed following a NIC dosing using a 21-mg transdermal patch while the other trial was performed after a placebo (PL) treatment. Results: During the cold air trials, there were no differences in rectal temperature (Tre) or mean skin temperature ([Tmacr]sk) between the PL and NIC treatments in either sex (p > 0.05). However, in men, heat production (M) was 12% lower (p ≤ 0.05) and tissue insulation was 17% higher (p ≤ 0.05) during the NIC treatment compared with the PL treatment, while these responses in women were unaffected. In both men and women, finger skin vascular conductance (SVCfin), expressed as a percentage of the BASE value, was higher during the NIC treatment compared with the PL treatment during the cold air trials (p ≤ 0.05). Lastly, throughout the cold air trials, there was no difference in thermal sensation between the PL and NIC treatments (p > 0.05). Discussion: In conclusion, although NIC administration resulted in sex-specific alterations in M and tissue insulation during cold exposure, the response in Tre was unaffected.
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Keywords: cold thermoregulatory responses; gender differences; sex differences; smoking; transdermal patch

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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